Seton Hall rode 16 points and 12 rebounds from Angel Delgado along with strong defense down the stretch to muscle a 60-57 résumé-padding victory away from California.
Horrendous free throw shooting (9-of-20) along with a mid-game offensive drought nearly crippled the Hall, but they relied on strong defense from guys like Madison Jones and Ish Sanogo to hold Cal back after trailing by six early in the second period.
“The defense was good,” said Kevin Willard on the FOX Sports post-game show. ” We just have to get back to Newark and work on our free throws, because that’s really what is killing us right now.”
Both teams started well offensively with California striking first before a 7-0 run from Seton Hall that was spearheaded by Khadeen Carrington (14 pts, 4 asts), who leveled the field.
The Pirates warmed up and maintained a shooting percentage above 60-percent for the opening 13 minutes before the wheels fell off for the closing seven. Seton Hall scored just four points over the remainder, a stretch that featured settling for a lot of jump shots and just one field goal.
Ish Sanogo and Mike Nzei did a good job on Ivan Rabb (8 pts, 8 rebs), but it was Jabari Bird (22 pts, 9 rebs) who led all scorers and helped out Charlie Moore (12 pts) after the freshman kept Cal in the game early on.
Within five points of each other for the first 20+ minutes, the Golden Bears pushed the envelope in the midst of a Seton Hall offensive drought that saw only seven points scored over 10+ minutes of game clock.
Trailing 40-34 early in the second half after coming out of a Kevin Willard timeout intended to circle the wagons, the Pirates brought themselves from the brink and disrupted Cal by drawing 3+ fouls on four starters early in the second half including an early fourth on Ivan Rabb.
The Pirates equalized at 45 heading into the under-12 timeout after a smooth Carrington triple to spark a 7-0 run was coupled with some strong defensive stops.
Leading 56-51 coming out of the under-four with four fouls attributed to six players, Seton Hall again failed to score for over three minutes until a clutch Angel Delgado bucket with under a minute to play, but they held the fort defensively even after giving up a full court bucket while huddled up.
A frantic closing minute or two also feature Seton Hall splitting a pair of trips to the line, which nearly cost them a potential résumé win.
Defense won this game. Madison Jones and Ish Sanogo only had a collective four steals, but it felt like more. Both registered a ton of deflections and Sanogo was all over Rabb along with Mike Nzei for stretches. Cal looked like they were rattled a bit offensively after Charlie Moore cooled off and Rabb wasn’t at 100-percent; Jabari Bird did not show any signs of rust after missing several games.
This was a hard-fought resume win. Seton Hall dug deep and held Cal to just 4 points over a 7-minute span in the second half when the Pirates took their first lead that they would never relinquish for the final 9:44. This is now the Hall’s best win; a chance to double up against ranked South Carolina looms.
Sanogo took a forearm to the face, Rabb was playing with a sprained hand, and five starters picked up four fouls before the final media timeout, which speaks to the physicality and nature this game had.
Seton Hall left points on the board by continuing a two-game stretch of woeful free throw shooting (21-45, 44%). The missed freebies were masked by an offensively unsustainable start which featured mostly low percentage jump shots that weren’t assisted on; this eventually turned into two individual mid-game droughts that the Pirates had to overcome. A few days of practice instead of back-to-back games across the globe should help Willard’s guys prepare for South Carolina.